Safer birthing in a bag

TOMS releases new line of totes that provide safe birthing kits

Katie Morrison

TOMS was launched in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie, inspired by his many adventures across the world. After travelling to Argentina and seeing the lack of shoes among the children there, he felt impressed to do something about it. The company, TOMS, was born from a need he recognized and wanted to fill.

Mycoskie began the company with the philosophy of One for One. In essence, every pair of shoes the company sold, they would donate a pair to someone in need. They offer a variety of styles for donation so as to best fit the needs of the child. These styles include winter boots, sports shoes, wet-weather and classic slip-ons. To date, TOMS has donated over 35 million pairs of shoes to children in need.

Not long after, Mycoskie recognized more needs to be filled. He saw that eye care in third-world companies was not quite receiving the attention it needed. Again, TOMS saw a need and released a product that could help alleviate it. TOMS Eyewear was created, each purchase providing a person in need with a full eye exam by a professional and the treatment necessary.

Next, TOMS approached the water issue. They saw that more than 780 million people don’t have access to safe water systems and decided to do something about that. TOMS Roasting Co. Coffee was launched as a way to give water back. For every bag of coffee beans that is sold, TOMS works with Giving Partners and gives 140 liters of safe clean water to someone in need.

And finally, their latest project: the TOMS Bag Collection. This time, Mycoskie created a project first and then assigned a philanthropic use for it, which was a first for the company. This collection consists of the Artisan line, which beaded and sewn by hand, the lightweight and utilitarian Travel Inspired line and the colorful Campus and Tech line, intended to carry electronics and computers. The bags come in styles like the tote, hobo crossbody, bucket and baby bags.

The special bonus behind buying one of these fun totes or crossbodies is what TOMS is doing for the world. For every bag sold, TOMS is helping to provide safer births across the world. This might seem like an immeasurable feat, but the way TOMS is going about it really makes a difference. They provide training for birth attendants but more importantly, they donate a safe birth kit that “includes the vital materials like soap, gloves, gauze, a cord clamp, surgical blade and a clean surface to help a woman safely give birth”. This specific product is especially close to Blake Mycoskie’s heart. He and his wife just welcomed the birth of their first child in December, and he could not think of a more worthy cause. “The cool thing is [we] were excited about working in maternal health before we found out she was pregnant,” he told Footwear News in an interview this month. “When my wife was six months pregnant, I went to Haiti and it was really special to see the work that was being done.”

Although TOMS has come under attack for simply “giving a fish” and potentially disrupting the local economy instead of “teaching how to fish,” the work the company does is undoubtedly with good intentions and produces positive, immediate results. If you’re in the market for a new bag and feeling altruistic, check out TOMS’ Bag Collection. You might kill two birds with one stone.

Katie is a junior studying business administration.